Repentance

“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

I have always looked at repentance as turning from one thing and turning towards another. But that definition shows you the simplicity of my thought process. Because of my simple understanding of the term repentance I often find myself twisted and turning back to where I have come from. There is also the argument that once we have confessed and repented of our sins it would be an insult to the agony and suffering of Jesus on the cross to confess and repent of sin that we have already been forgiven for. After all, He died for the sins of the world not just mine or the ones we have already committed. Jesus paid the price for the sins of the past, present, and the future from the Garden of Eden to the coming Kingdom of Heaven. I disagree with that as it would give us license to continue on as those of the world and not the saints of the Kingdom of Heaven. Confession and Repentance are tools used for our spiritual growth.

Real repentance comes from the conviction of the Holy Spirit of the sinful way that we are living our life. When the evangelist is speaking the Word of God the Holy Spirit will convict the heart of the sinner. It is more than a passive feeling that a change is needed. It is a resident feeling of guilt that is God initiated sorrow for the sins committed that drives one to be godly in their life. In the power of the Holy Spirit’s conviction it powers a person’s desire in their heart to repent from the way they are to the way that God wants them to be. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:8-11)

Acknowledging our need for repentance does not throw us into a state of deep depression because of our sinful nature or the evil deeds we have realized that we are doing. I have made plenty of changes in my life and none of them brought me down. When I was in school I changed my focus from academic to vocational and was quite happy about the change in course. It actually gave me a sense of hope because I was better at working with my hands than my brain. When convicted by the Holy Spirit of our worldly ways and God brings our hearts to sorrow for the way we have been living we see our need for salvation. Salvation in a small way is like when I changed from academia to vocational, I saw a better outcome. When I considered that I deserve the wrath of God for my sinful living an offer of forgiveness and salvation is a better outcome. In both examples my repentance did not cause me any regret. “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Turning away from living as a citizen of the world to focusing on being a citizen of God’s Kingdom is certainly a major perspective change. My focus is no longer on myself or the world I am journeying through, I now focus upon the King of the Kingdom that I am bound for, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the author and perfecter of my faith. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Many times I come across people who feel that they are unworthy of God’s forgiveness. When I think of that Good Friday when the Jewish leaders took Jesus to a mock trial and falsely accused Him, when I think of the Roman guards who beat, slapped, and spit in His face, when I think of the procession to the cross on Calvary where the crowds jeered at Him, and when I think of how the Roman soldiers drove nails into His hands and feet, then to hear the first words He spoke from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) I cannot help but love a God of this character, a God of this much grace, and a God who would forgive those who crucified Him. We are all worthy because His love is greater than our hate. We have a God whose grace is far greater than our sins. “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

Sometimes when we are suffering the godly sorrow that leads to repentance God in His mercy will take the burden off us and remove all desire to live the old life style. Other times we are to face the struggle of repentance in order to strengthen our faith in His Word. There are some things that we can do to aid us in our battle for repentance.

One is that we can make ourselves fully aware of the weight of our sin. David had an affair with Bathsheba and got her pregnant. She was the wife of Uriah a soldier in his army and he had him killed on the battlefield so he would not be found out. David thought his sins of adultery and murder were covered, but God knows. (2 Samuel 11) The Prophet Nathan was sent by God to confront David of his sin. The Holy Spirit convicted David and he repented and sought God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 51 we read that David knew who his sins were really against. “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4) David felt the loss of his joy in the Lord and prayed that his joy in the salvation of the Lord would be restored to him. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:12

We must know the true weight of our sin in that it is against God for it is His Word that we have violated. We must realize that weight bore down on Jesus as He hung on the cross paying the cost of our sin. He took the punishment that we deserve and it belongs to no one else. We often rationalize, we shift the blame, but we will face the judgment for our sin we alone will be held accountable. Jesus will lift that off us if we would accept Him.

Claim for yourself the promises of God’s grace. The sadness that I have for the unforgiven in the world is that their sins have already been paid for. My dad while I was in the Army paid off the lone on my car for me. While I was overseas I saved up enough money to pay the lone. Once home I went to the bank and they looked me at in a strange way. “This lone has already been paid!” The banker said. The truth for the unforgiven is that even before the Holy Spirit convicts them, before they confess, and before they repent their sins have been forgiven. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” They are unforgiven not because of their sins but because they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ for who He is, their Savior.

When Jesus comes into their life they are eternally, unchangeably forgiven. There is no question if Jesus will forgive us, He died to pay for our sin, so of course He will forgive us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Our status in heaven never changes with the ups and downs of life here or the progress of our sanctification. This truth in God’s Word enables us to repent with glad abandon. We no longer have anything to hide and nothing to have fear of in our past. It is all on the table and our Father in Heaven is pleased that we have started our journey home. We all are or have been prodigals in this world and God is searching the horizons for the prodigal who turns his way home. “So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

Involve your family and friends in the new person that you are becoming. Our repentance is a vertical matter between you and God, as He initiated the cause for your repentance. But it cannot help but become a horizontal adventure as well. Having accountability partners is a great way to find support. Prayer support is most effectual and is a strong divine power. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

Satan is the father of all lies, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Satan is the great accuser of mankind. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10) There is nothing good about him, as he has come “to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)

But we now serve Jesus who has been given all authority on Heaven and earth and sits at the right hand of the Father. There He makes intercession for us and is in constant prayer for His own. Let us not meditate on Satan or his work to destroy all that our God has given to us, but let us meditate on Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who loves us and is in constant prayer to the Father for us. Think about that, the Creator of all is working to aid you in your repentance along the narrow path to your home in His glory. “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 3, 2016

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